Mortal danger

06/29/2015 | Follow me on Twitterhere

Two of the most dangerous things I’ve ever done in NYC:

  1. Drove a Uhaul the first time I moved here
  2. Drove a Uhaul the second time I moved here

Seriously, I can’t believe you don’t need a special license for that.

Who’s got your back?

06/24/2015 | Follow me on Twitterhere

Yesterday, one of my board members called to check in, to hear the latest Abernathy updates, and to discuss a marketing opportunity for the brand. The call was productive.

As we were wrapping up, he stressed the importance of the project to him, and offered to float us financially if things ever got to that point…tapping into his personal savings, taking on credit card debt, whatever it takes.

He isn’t independently wealthy or even in the best position to offer this—he’s running his own early-stage startup and might even have debt from grad school. And that’s what makes the offer even more significant.

It’s hard to overstate how important it is to know—to truly know—that good people have your back when you’re trying to do something important and risky that might not work.

Word to Marshawn Lynch, I’m thankful.

Say Their Names

06/19/2015 | Follow me on Twitterhere

Take a moment to say these names out loud.

  1. Clementa Pinckney
  2. Cynthia Hurd
  3. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton
  4. Tywanza Sanders
  5. Ethel Lance
  6. Susie Jackson
  7. DePayne Middleton-Doctor
  8. Myra Thompson
  9. Daniel Simmons Sr.

These are the names of the nine people murdered on Wednesday during a church prayer meeting by a racist coward in Charleston, South Carolina.

As the media pretends to analyze the motive and digs up uninteresting facts about the terrorist, I’d like to turn the attention back towards those who are no longer with us, and the families who will forever mourn their absence.

While we’re at it, this would also be a great time to take down the confederate flag that still flies above South Carolina today.

Outrage theater

06/18/2015 | Follow me on Twitterhere

Being on social media can be exhausting. Viewed through the lens of someone who cares about human rights and social justice alone makes you a strong candidate for antidepressant medications, but being connected to the pulse of global outrage makes it worse.

I think we’re still very much in the wild west days of social media. Tribes are slowly codifying and coalescing—both great words, let’s be honest—and I hope to see groups taking bold stands to consider and set agendas for the tribe members.

I mentioned before that social media is wresting control from mainstream media outlets, but the social media collective is still reactive rather than prescriptive. I hope to spotlight and amplify those noticing and leading and provoking in important places, and I’d love to know about people you’re listening to right now.

Creating spaces

06/17/2015 | Follow me on Twitterhere

Some of the most rewarding experiences of my life have come as a result of me being intentional about creating a space where ideas can flourish. Here in America, we busy ourselves by default and live life in between our commitments. This often results in half-formed perspectives on life and internalized viewpoints that are based on social conditioning rather than critical thoughts.

In our rush to fit in and comply with the status quo, this is a recipe for a closed-minded worldview when we dwell in circles of homogenous and self-reinforcing ideas. Challenging ourselves to grow and intreat new ideas is important, and this is best served by our ideas making contact with the world. This could be a blog, a phone call, a meetup, or just a casual conversation with a stranger.

#WarStories

06/16/2015 | Follow me on Twitterhere

This is “hella short notice” as the kids say, but I’ll be speaking at the Uptown Tech Meetup #WarStories event this evening at Madiba in Harlem, NYC.

What is it, you ask?

Every other Tuesday, we’ll be featuring kickass entrepreneurs to join us on the Patio and share their #WarStories.

Expect Happy Hour specials all night, great weather, & awesome people!

I’m sure we’ll cover my 3+ years in the belly of the beast doing customer support, serving as in-house CTO for Seth Godin, launching/running Abernathy, and of course my signature deadpan wit.

A few of people gave me an earful for not personally inviting them to the last event at which I spoke, and I’m still not going to do it this time because that’s an unreasonable expectation, but I feel like I should acknowledge it.

I hear and love you, my DearAngryFriends.

Events like this are interesting to me because they facilitate the rapid exchange of ideas and candid feedback. I know a lot of entrepreneurs and businesspeople who are a simple perspective-shift away from success, and I love being able to play a role in them seeing things differently.

Plus, I love (not having to leave) Harlem (where I live).

What: Uptown Tech Meetup #WarStories
When: Tuesday, June 16 from 7PM to 9PM
Where: Madiba Harlem 46 W 116th St. New York, NY 10026

Here’s the agenda for the evening:

7:00pm – 7:30pm | General Networking
7:30pm – 8:30pm | #WarStories
8:30pm – 9:00pm+ | Vibin’ + mingling

You can RSVP for free here.

photo of willie jackson, a handsome black man

Inspiration is everywhere

06/15/2015 | Follow me on Twitterhere

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting a writer whose work I admired. One of the first thing I observed in chatting with her is that ideas weren’t merely verbal exchanges as if we were playing a socially reinforced game of tennis. Instead, she grappled with ideas as if they were palpable and available for her personal consideration.

On several occasions, based on the topics discussed, she took out her phone to jot down ideas for pieces she was working on or might work on in the future. Additionally, she had published (or was composing) pieces on virtually every topic that she found interesting or important.

I think a lot about fear and Resistance and the things that keep us from achieving our goals. In the context of writing, this is of course manifested in the pretend condition known as writers block. But as I shared space with the prolific writer in question, it was apparent that one of the keys to her ability to produce a significant volume of content was a result of her remaining in a posture of noticing things.

And not just noticing things and then moving on to the next distraction. I mean really developing a point of view and challenging herself to put words around her observations.

This was my inspiration in writing today—I just noticed something that I wanted to share.

Twitter, Tweetstorms, and futility

06/11/2015 | Follow me on Twitterhere

I’m pretty active on Twitter.

There’s a lifetime supply of worthless noise on there, but it’s also a powerful tool for organizing, connecting, and learning. Twitter is transforming how my generation interacts with brands and influencers, and it’s empowering citizen journalists to wrest control from the mainstream media.

Twitter is also seductive for sharing ideas that would otherwise make it into blog posts. Tweetstorms are a series of tweets that are “connected” in a way that allows people to see the thread. This makes it even easier to share a stream of consciousness, and permits interactions (think: comments) on each one.

The trouble with Twitter being used like this is that the information is essentially ephemeral—there’s very little long-term utility. If you take the time to share your thoughts on a topic in a series of tweets, there’s no easy way to preserve this in a way that makes it a) accessible by others later and b) accessible elsewhere (off Twitter).

The benefit of a blog post of course is that it has a URL that persists. Here’s a blog post I wrote in 2009 that I found in about four seconds. Try finding a tweet from 2009. I’ll wait.

I see mountains of content every day that could, with very little effort, be turned into blog posts that live on forever. It would be futile for me to try and convince Twitter influencers to move their content into blog posts, but it’s certainly possible to build tools that facilitate this process.

So as soon as someone wires me $150K…

Milestones

06/10/2015 | Follow me on Twitterhere

I’ve been busy.

In January, I launched Abernathy in earnest. Abernathy is a new online magazine for Black men—we’re producing quality content for a woefully overlooked and underserved demographic.

It started off as an idea, and the day before I launched, I had one article ready (shout out to Garfield, who’s been rocking with me for 10 years). I then hit up my buddy Ernest, who immediately took on the role of Editor-in-Chief.

Then we had three posts. We were publishing twice a week, and now we’re publishing new content three times a week.

The reception has been resoundingly positive: in March we held a small launch event in New York City (where I now reside (again)) and yesterday, we announced our launch sponsor, Basecamp.

I didn’t make a big announcement about it, but Abernathy is indeed my full-time focus. Focusing on Abernathy full-time is one of the reasons we’ve made so much progress so quickly.

The other reason is because my team is world-class: the site is run by the peerless and aforementioned Ernest White and my Advisor, Seth Godin, ensures that I’m uncomfortable on a regular basis. It’s hard to go wrong with a team like this, and I’m excited about building something special and necessary.

If you want to join along, here’s the Abernathy newsletter, Twitter account, and Facebook page. We’ve got some more exciting announcements on the horizon.

My top productivity hack of 2015

05/14/2015 | Follow me on Twitterhere

Stop effing around, send the damn email, and move on to the next thing.